Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Taking Care of Dad / Judy
I've considered blogging about this experience of being a caregiver for an elderly parent because it's such a huge part of my life right now. But I've hesitated because I didn't want to be disrespectful to Dad in any way...and some of what I could write about might be. But I've decided to go ahead for a couple reasons: I need to write about this as therapy for me, and also--maybe someone else can use it.
Some background: it's been almost fifteen years since Lloyd and I gave up our jobs and house in Maryland to return home and basically be here with Dad. He had recently been divorced and I could tell he wasn't doing well living by himself, so here we came. It was great watching 3 of my kids graduate from my old high school and of course we were able to live in the house I grew up in.
I did all the shopping, cooking and cleaning and considered it a small price to pay to be here in this place I love. Up until now Dad has been independent and a fun "roommie." Although he has gradually become weaker and more frail over the years, he could still get around with his walker. He enjoyed reading the newspaper when he woke up at 5:00 pm and then played chess on the computer or surfed the web, reading news and the family's blogs and sometimes staying up most of the night with a good book. He went to church, to visit family nearby, out to dinner occasionally and life was pretty good for all of us.
Then last summer he had a serious urinary tract infection, landed in the hospital for almost two weeks, then a rehab facility for three weeks after that, and when he came home in September (with a catheter), everything was different. The main difference is that he's immobile--his legs don't work at all. This means he's essentially bedridden although we get him up in his wheelchair for meals at the table two or three times a day. For those who've done this, they know there is a world of meaning in the words "he's bedridden."
More about this next time.
It was customary in our mission for missionaries to review their patriarchal blessing with the president. During my interview the mission...